The greatest television westerns of all time include "Bonanza," "Gunsmoke," "Rawhide," "Lonesome Dove" and "Little House on the Prairie." Other television westerns that enjoyed high ratings are "Firefly," "The Rifleman," "The Virginian," "Deadwood" and "Wagon Train."
Airing in 1959, "Bonanza" followed Lorne Greene, Michael Landon and Dan Blocker as character Ben Cartwright and his sons, who operated and defended their ranch while aiding the community. Each episode ran for 49 minutes. In "Gunsmoke," Marshal Matt Dillon tried to maintain order in the rough town of Dodge City. Starring James Arness and Milburn Stone, the show aired in 1955 and each ran for 60 minutes.
"Rawhide" appeared in 1959 and spun the tale of Gil Favor, the trail boss of a continuous cattle drive. The show told of the adventures and antics of the crew, and each episode ran for 50 minutes. It featured actors Clint Eastwood, Paul Brinegar and Steve Raines.
With a cast including Robert Redford, Tommy Lee Jones, Danny Glover and Diane Lane, "Lonesome Dove" premiered as a 1989 mini-series. In it, two Texas rangers choose to shuffle cattle from the south to Montana.
Appearing in 1974, "Little House on the Prairie" depicted the life and adventures of the Ingalls family in the 19th century American West. It starred Melissa Gilbert, Michael Landon and Lindsay Greenbush.